Our Malcolm can finally rest in peace

“Malcolm died after being arrested for behaviour which was totally out of character – but we never thought the police were responsible for his death.”

Divorced dad Mr Flockton, of Garth 22, Killingworth, collapsed and died after being arrested outside the home of his partner Sandra Stringer’s ex-husband.

She told the jury he had eaten a homemade cannabis biscuit, then gone to her ex’s home to talk to her nine-year-old son, who was staying there. Mr Flockton was naked apart from a fleece jacket and he began shouting and throwing stones at the house. When police were called he was said to have been calm at first.

But he then began to struggle violently with police officers for a period of 30 minutes before being taken to Wallsend Police Station. There he collapsed within minutes of arrival.


Violent North Shields thug jailed for attacks on pal

A VULNERABLE man was killed after being repeatedly attacked by his violent bully friend.

Amendeep Singh Rai befriended then regularly beat victim Kenneth Oakes in the lead up to his death.

The 52-year-old, who suffered from learning difficulties, a severe speech impediment and bad eye sight, was found dead at Rai’s flat on Stanley Street, North Shields.

During the three weeks leading-up to his death, defenceless Mr Oakes, known as Kenny, was subject to at least four brutal attacks at the hands of Rai, 21, which left him with a staggering 43 rib fractures, a broken breast bone, bruises and cuts.

In the final deadly assault, two segments of Mr Oakes’s ribs completely broke off, making it impossible for him to breath.

He collapsed and died on the floor of Rai’s apartment, just a couple of hours after the pair had shared a take-away.

Cannabis addict Rai was yesterday jailed for six years, with three years extended licence, at Newcastle Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.


Dale Cregan

Since I began working on this site in October of last year, I have several times thought that I had discovered every major instance in the last 20 years or so of a cannabis smoker committing violence, only to come upon yet another terrible case.

For example, many weeks after I’d published a hard copy of ‘Attacker Smoked Cannabis’ and posted it to a number of politicians, journalists and activists, somebody pointed me towards the case of Jodi Jones in Scotland, murdered in 2003 by her 15-year-old boyfriend, who, by his own admission, smoked more cannabis in a day than many heavy smokers would consume in a week.

Not long after reading about this case, I read about the murder of Rhys Jones, inadvertently gunned down by a local thug who spent much of his young life smoking cannabis.

Today, during what might be called a routine online search of various local papers, I came upon one Dale Cregan, one of the most notorious murderers of recent times.

As with many such cases, I discovered his appalling criminal record by chance, after reading of the recent conviction of his brother, Dean Moores, who uses a different surname to his biological sibling. Last month, Moores was jailed for five years for stabbing his sister’s ex-boyfriend, and, surprise, surprise, for cultivating cannabis. Needless to say, cannabis also features prominently in Cregan’s litany of psychopathic violence.

A drug and arms dealer from his teens, Cregan is currently serving a whole life prison order for four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, all of which occurred in one five-month period of 2012. First, in May, Cregan shot dead the son of a rival drug dealer, and attempted to murder three other men in the same incident. Three months later, he killed the drug dealer himself, by shooting him nine times and throwing a grenade at him, blowing him to pieces.

A month later, he made a bogus 999 call, claiming there had been an incident at his house. Two police officers, Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, attended the call. Cregan lured them into a trap, shot them each at least eight times, and threw a grenade at them. He then drove to a local police station and confessed his crime. In June the following year, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Many news reports have noted that Cregan dealt cannabis. In addition, two years after his conviction, Cregan was placed in solitary confinement for smuggling a mobile phone and cannabis into his prison cell, and a subsequent drugs test reportedly found traces of cannabis in his urine. Despite all this, however, his consumption of cannabis, though seemingly obvious and relevant, has only been noted by one site, rather inappropriately named ‘The Famous People’.



Drunk thug dad who stunk of weed bit cop during arrest – before telling him he had AIDS

A police officer had to undergo tests for hepatitis and HIV after a thug dad bit him before telling him he had AIDS.

Sean Fiddaman, 31, has been jailed for 12 months after he was convicted following a trial.

Manchester Crown Court heard Fiddaman didn’t reveal he had lied for 16 hours, meaning the officer had to go to hospital for tests.

Fiddaman was in a car which crashed into a wall in Hulme, at the junction of Greenheys Lane and Bold Street in the early hours.

He and another man left, but they were tracked down after residents called 999.


Man locked up for ‘unforgivable’ attack on sleeping teen after cannabis party

This is also noteworthy for the fact that he claims to have imported the cannabis from the USA and knew that it was strong, providing yet more evidence that cannabis smokers do, in fact, know what they are smoking:

A man who raped and sexually assaulted a teenage girl after a cannabis party at his home has been jailed for five and a half years.

Daniel Lee Cook, of no fixed address but formerly of Caernarfon, attacked the girl despite her telling him to stop.

The 22-year-old had admitted the charges at an earlier hearing and was at Caernarfon Crown Court for sentence.

Cook initially denied the offences, claiming he had slept through the night, and suggested the girl was lying.

When confronted by forensic evidence linking him to the victim, he claimed she had had sex with him while he slept.

Jailing him, Judge Huw Rees said Cook had admitted to an “unforgivable piece of behaviour, fuelled by drugs, to satisfy his lustful needs”.

In addition, the judge made an indefinite restraining order preventing Cook from contacting the girl.

He must also sign the sex offenders register for life.

The court heard Cook had been joined at his home by the girl and two friends and, during the evening, they had smoked several cigarettes containing cannabis.

Prosecutor Mathew Curtis said Cook had boasted the drug was imported from America and was very strong.

Later, during the early hours, the girl was asleep when she became aware of Cook behind her.

She told him to stop and Cook left the room, but later returned and attacked her a second time.

After this occasion, she left the house and the police were alerted. Cook was arrested the following day.

At interview, he claimed the girl was lying and later, after forensic tests were carried out, he claimed she had attacked him.

Elen Owen, defending, said Cook genuinely doesn’t recall the night in question, having taken a cocktail of prescription drugs, alcohol and cannabis.

She said his best mitigation was his guilty plea and urged the court to keep the prison sentence as short as possible.


Violent rapist who attacked pregnant girl in Blackpool gets extended prison sentence

A convicted sex offender who subjected a vulnerable teenager to a brutal rape on the day she discovered she was expecting a baby has been jailed – more than a decade later.

Judge Philip Parry branded the violent attack as “of the utmost depravity” as he found Michael Allen MacKenzie to be a dangerous offender who posed a substantial risk to women.

He imposed a 14 year jail term with an extended licence period of five years.

MacKenzie, 69, of Keswick Road, Blackpool, had failed to attend his trial at Preston Crown Court in March and was later found in Blackpool attempting to commit suicide.

But after being assessed by a psychiatrist and found fit to face trial, he admitted two rapes and two indecent assaults against the victim, who cannot be identified.

He was prosecuted as a result of a separate Lancashire Police investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in the resort, though he is not linked to that probe.

Prosecuting, Katie Jones said the complainant, now a married mum, had revealed the rape to her husband in 2013. She said she had been a vulnerable girl, her family were known to social services and she went to a local school in Blackpool.

She got to know some girls, and through their friendship she got to know MacKenzie.

Miss Jones added: “So it was that she got to know the defendant and he used to give the girls money, which they would spend on cigarettes, sweets and alcohol, and he would also give them cannabis.

“He would pay her compliments. It used to make her feel uncomfortable and she didn’t like his attention.”

The court heard she went to the defendant’s Blackpool flat with her friend the day she found out she was pregnant after her family’s reaction. She was told the defendant had keys to a flat he was “looking after” and could stay there.

Miss Jones said: “At the flat, the prosecution say, all three spent time drinking alcohol he had brought with him and smoking cannabis. She remembered the cannabis made her paranoid.”

The court heard the girls fell out, and the friend left the flat, leaving the pair alone. After locking the door MacKenzie then launched a vile attack, putting a washing line around the terrified teen’s neck and dragging her onto the floor and into the bedroom where he punched her. He ripped her clothes off and attacked her multiple times, holding her by her throat or by her hair. The attack went on throughout the night.

Miss Jones added: “She asks herself why she didn’t try and get out. She felt like her body had given up and would rather him do the awful things he was doing and get out alive for the sake of her unborn child.”

The following morning, after he left the flat, the youngster went to Blackpool Police Station and stood outside for a while, but did not have the courage to go in. In a victim impact statement she said she feared she would be judged because she was pregnant.

She said: ” I felt ashamed and dirty and I couldn’t tell anyone what he had done to me. “After all who would believe me? I was young and pregnant.” She also said she feared she could have lost her baby as a result of the violent attack.

MacKenzie has 20 convictions for 35 offences including unlawful sexual intercourse with 15 year old girl, an attempted rape in 1989, and violence.

Defending, Sara Haque asked for credit for his guilty pleas and argued he did not pose a risk to the public as 15 years had passed since his last conviction.

Judge Philip Parry said: “The victim was in my judgement an incredibly vulnerable young teenager.

“Set about that depressing background she was desperate for friendship and genuine affection.

“She was that day even more vulnerable and in need of comfort and affection than ever before.

“She cried out and begged you to stop.

“She was by now utterly terrified and in fear of her life.”

“She has nothing to be ashamed of – the shame Mr MacKenzie, is all yours.

“In my judgement you destroyed her childhood years and many of her adult years too.”

He must sign the sex offender’s register for life.


Ex-boyfriend launched terror campaign against two former partners and posted explicit photos on Facebook

An ex-boyfriend wormed his way back into his former partner’s life before beating her, stealing her phone and posting revealing photographs on Facebook.

Jamie Lee, 25, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced after admitting an array of crimes which concerned shocking behaviour towards two separate female victims in Bodmin and in Somerset.

Lee, of Church Gardens, Glastonbury, stalked one of his former partners and shared revealing photographs after a two-week relationship broke down and was violent and threatening towards the other woman, again posting private images.

He was sentenced by resident judge Robert Linford for stalking, breaching a restraining order, two criminal damage charges, making threats to kill and disclosing a private revealing or sexual photograph.

The first stalking offence occurred in Taunton in May of last year after the defendant had a two-week relationship with the victim.

Prosecuting barrister Peter Coombe described how, when the woman woke him up from a sleep as requested, he threatened to “put her in a body bag” resulting in the ending of the relationship.

Despite the break-up he proceeded to follow her and her friend to the gym, throwing objects at the car as they sat in stationary traffic.

Lee then continued to drive around after the victim, calling her at work, throwing stones at her window and smearing barbecue sauce over her car. He then put an intimate photograph of her on Facebook and sent it to her former boyfriend.

The victim withdrew the evidence following pressure from Lee but even after doing so he continued what Mr Coombe described as “a campaign of persecution against her”, issuing further threats such as parking outside her house and texting her while she was in sight saying “only a matter of time, late at night ;)”.

Lee was then bailed and made his way to Bodmin after he contacted the second victim, with whom he’d been in a relationship with previously from when she was aged 15.

Mr Coombe outlined the violent nature of their previous relationship, describing how Coombe assaulted her and dragged her to the floor by her hair, resulting in a restraining order being put in place. Despite the restraining order Lee got in touch with the victim on Instagram in October 2017 and sent her a video of him self-harming and threatening to kill himself.

Mr Coombe said: “The victim drove him to Cornwall and dropped him to a friends, allowing him back into her life as she was scared he would kill himself.

“The defendant found out from a friend where she lived visited regularly, pressurising her to allowing him stay. There was then a rapid deterioration of the defendant’s behaviour as he was regularly under the influence of cocaine and cannabis.”


Samuel Gildea jailed for baby son Alfie’s shaking death

A man who shook his baby son to death in an “act of deliberate violence” has been jailed.

Samuel Gildea, 30, admitted the manslaughter of four-month-old Alfie Gildea.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard the boy died two days after he was found with head injuries by his mother on 12 September 2018.

Gildea, of Partington, Trafford, who also admitted coercive and controlling behaviour, was sentenced to 19 years.

He had been due to stand trial for murder, but his guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the Crown on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said Gildea had admitted causing Alfie’s death in an “act of deliberate and unlawful violence which involved rigorous and violent shaking”.

The court heard Alfie’s mother Caitlin McMichael had called the ambulance service to say her baby was not breathing.

When paramedics arrived at the home in Woodruff Walk the baby was in cardiac arrest.

He was taken to hospital where staff restarted his heart, and Gildea was arrested after his son’s injuries were deemed to be non-accidental.

The baby’s life support was turned off the following day.

Gildea had a history of involvement with mental health services, the court heard.

Blood samples taken from the defendant the day after his son’s death showed traces of cocaine and cannabis in his system, consistent with recent use.


Dangerous man raped pensioner before laughing and stealing her husband’s ashes

Here is one of hundreds of cases that reeks of cannabis, but does not mention cannabis: Dangerous man raped pensioner before laughing and stealing her husband’s ashes.

Doctors are currently treating Stip [the defendant] at Langdon Hospital. They say he is responding to treatment and showing greater insight into his crimes. His behaviour can only partly be explained by his mental health and may have been made worse by his drug use.

What ‘drug use’ could have so damaged his mental health? Either nobody bothered to find out, or the paper has not bothered to report it.

Roofer plunged knife into neighbour’s neck – for not voting in local elections

From the Birmingham Mail (https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/roofer-plunged-knife-neighbours-neck-15264170):

“It came completely out of the blue and arose out of your strong views about politics. It was an extraordinary motive.”

Nicholas Berry, defending, said Byrne’s use of cannabis lead to his mood fluctuating and that he suffered from depression.

Drug-driver mowed down three children while fleeing row with her girlfriend

This trend alone, of drivers high on cannabis causing death or injury, ought to halt the legalisation movement. I don’t usually include them, as the link is undeniable, but this one is noteworthy for its terrifying nature, the fact the driver was a woman, and the fact that she was given only a two-year prison sentence for all offences: Drug-driver mowed down three children while fleeing row with her girlfriend.

A drug-driver who mowed down a mother and three children with her car whilst she was fleeing her girlfriend following a bust-up has been jailed.

Samantha Ogden, 28, was high on cannabis and had been reversing at speed when she mounted a pavement and ploughed into Natalie Mulligan who was walking hand-in-hand with her 11-year-old daughter and two other children aged 11 and six.

As paramedics were called to the scene and the youngest girl was pinned to a fence unconscious with a fractured skull, Ogden tried to explain her behaviour to an incredulous Miss Mulligan saying: ”I was just having s**t with my bird and I needed to get off.”

Tests showed she was three times the drug-drive limit.

Doctors said the six-year-old girl’s injuries will take nine months to heal.

She now won’t sleep in her own bed and has nightmares and flashbacks from the incident.

Miss Mulligan’s daughter is now afraid to walk home from school. Miss Mulligan and the other two children suffered minor injuries in the impact.

Paedophile who ‘violated boy for his own perverse pleasure’ is jailed

Quite often in cases of paedophilia and sexual abuse the victims are plied with alcohol and drugs, including cannabis. The link between these crimes seems less meaningful than that between cannabis and violence, but is nonetheless worth reporting. Here’s a dismally disturbing case from last year: Paedophile who ‘violated boy for his own perverse pleasure’ is jailed.

The court heard that on a number of occasions Logan took the boy to his flat, where he would smoke cannabis with him before ‘pestering’ him to engage in sexual activity.

Teenagers armed with knives and screwdrivers go on terrifying car-jacking spree

More common even than stories of cannabis smokers committing violence are stories of criminals being convicted of cannabis possession alongside a violent offence or other crime, in which smoking of the drug was not stated as a fact. Here’s one recent story that could stand for hundreds: Teenagers armed with knives and screwdrivers go on terrifying car-jacking spree.

If anyone would care to bet that these young men merely possessed cannabis without ever having smoked it I should be happy to offer generous odds.


Cannabis and ‘psychosis’ study in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal

Recently there has been quite a bit of media coverage of the following report in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal: ‘The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe (EU-GEI): a multicentre case-control study’.

The study found that,

Daily cannabis use was associated with increased odds of psychotic disorder compared with never users…, increasing to nearly five-times increased odds for daily use of high-potency types of cannabis… The PAFs [population attributable fractions] calculated indicated that if high-potency cannabis were no longer available, 12·2% of cases of first-episode psychosis could be prevented across the 11 sites, rising to 30·3% in London and 50·3% in Amsterdam.

This ought not to come as a surprise to anyone, but several aspects of the study are, nevertheless, worth analysing.

At the heart of the study is the risk of ‘high-potency’ cannabis, which the authors define as having a THC concentration of greater than 10%. In ascertaining the potency of the cannabis the participants smoked the authors relied in large part on the apparent objectivity of ‘skunk’.

I wrote recently that ‘skunk’, a slang term for marijuana that contains a high concentration of THC, has no objective meaning, and has, like many slang terms, fallen out of use in the last few years. The Lancet study suggests this is not so.

In the media, at least, ‘skunk’ does appear to have become less trendy. Listed below in chronological order are all the stories on my site that mention the word ‘skunk’: 

As you can see, use of ‘skunk’ peaked in 2007, and has dropped significantly since 2010, perhaps not coincidentally the year Labour, which in 2002 downgraded cannabis from a class C drug to a class B (a decision it would reverse six years later, and which remains in effect), was removed from office after 13 years in power. In some cases it is used in single or double quotation marks, acknowledging a lack of objectivity, but in others it is not. Take, for example, the case of Tom Palmer (‘Life for double killer hooked on cannabis’). One day in 2005, 18-year-old Palmer stabbed to death two friends, aged 16 and 14, while they were walking on a woodland footpath in Berkshire, attacking one of them so savagely that he was nearly decapitated. According to the news report,

Palmer told prison doctors that he had tried, and failed to kick his cannabis habit in the year before the killing.

After trying the drug at the age of 14 he was smoking it daily by the time he was 15.

He was not smoking on the day of the killings but he told doctors he had been using the skunk form of the drug regularly in the preceding weeks. [My emphasis]

This suggests that, despite his young age, Palmer knew, or had a good idea of, the strength of the cannabis he was smoking. How would he know this? From the smell, you might think, given that ‘skunk’ is named after the black and white New World weasel that sprays a foul-smelling liquid from its rear when threatened, but this is not so. Some strains of cannabis smell somewhat differently to others, but this is governed more by terpenes than by THC. None, though, resemble the spray of a skunk, which I know from having spent my adolescence in the USA, where I smelt both skunk spray and cannabis on numerous occasions.

Regarding young Mr Palmer, then, one of the following is true: he was told the cannabis was strong by the person who sold it to him; he had smoked enough cannabis to be able to discern a difference in strength; he grew the cannabis himself and knew that it was strong (unlikely, given his age, and in any case not mentioned in any news report); or he had little, if any, idea, and claimed it was ‘skunk’ in mitigation. If one of the first two is true, the claim that hapless smokers don’t know what they are smoking is false, at least partly so, which leads back to the Lancet study.

The study did not test any cannabis, but instead relied on the participants’ own appraisal of the strength, which again is telling, if inexact

‘The high-potency category (THC=>10%) included all the… types reported by the study participants in their original language street names such as: UK home-grown skunk/sensimilla UK Super Skunk, Italian home-grown skunk/sensimilla , Italian Super Skunk, the Dutch Nederwiet, Nederhasj and geimporteerde hasj, the Spanish and French Hashish (from Morocco), Spanish home-grown sensimilla, French home-grown skunk/sensimilla/super-skunk and Brazilian skunk.’

This information, which further suggests that cannabis smokers do know what they are smoking, was supplemented by the following studies of the potency of cannabis in the UK,

These found that the average potency of seized cannabis in England and Wales is around 15% THC.

Citing this interesting study, ‘Just say ‘know’: how do cannabinoid concentrations influence users’ estimates of cannabis potency and the amount they roll in joints?’, the authors note:

Our findings need to be appraised in the context of limitations. Data on cannabis use are not validated by biological measures, such as urine, blood, or hair samples. However, such measures do not allow testing for use over previous years. Moreover, studies with laboratory data and self-reported information have shown that cannabis users reliably report frequency of use and the type of cannabis used. [My emphasis]

To bring all this together, then. A London resident with mental illness is interviewed for the study. He is asked, amongst other things, what type of cannabis he smokes. If he says ‘skunk’, he is believed, and thus is notched in the ‘high potency’ column. If he simply says ‘cannabis’, he is also notched in the ‘high potency’ column, because he comes from an area where the average THC content of cannabis seized by the police is over 10%.

Of course, the legalisation lobby will say that this is further evidence of the need for legalisation; that only by ‘regulating’ the market can we eliminate these potent strains. The trouble for them is that this has not happened in any country or state that has legalised cannabis. There are several reasons for this, notably the tenacity of the illicit market, and, more importantly, people’s desire for a stronger drug. Furthermore, it is far from certain that ‘low potency’ cannabis is harmless.

In any case, bear these studies in mind next time you hear the pitiful refrain ‘young people don’t know what they’re smoking’.


Another horrifying murder

From Mail Online:

Neighbour who Googled ‘How long for murder?’ before stabbing mother and daughter to death with a carving knife is found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility

Ralph also claimed there had been a ‘slight altercation’ between himself and Mr and Mrs Harris the evening before he stabbed them but would not elaborate.

He said Mrs Harris did not like him smoking cannabis and he wrote her a letter to apologise for ‘snapping’ at her seven months earlier.


Norman Lamb MP (@normanlamb): charlatan or fool?

Anyone who cannot see, or refuses to acknowledge, that cannabis is decriminalised in all but name in Britain, that it harms the user and others, and that large corporations exploit the alleged medical benefits of certain derivatives of cannabis to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug and ensure they are well positioned if and when cannabis is legalised, is either a charlatan or a fool. Most drug policy ‘reform’ activists are the latter, while those MPs and politicians who favour legalisation, such as Crispin Blunt and Zac Goldsmith, are the former. Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, though, is a mystery.

Member for North Norfolk since 2001, Mr Lamb was private secretary to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, another cannabis enthusiast, during the coalition years. The strange thing about his support for legalisation is that it appears to be based not on connections to the cannabis industry, as with Mr Blunt, Mr Goldsmith and others, but on his own perception of reality. Worryingly, his delusion is matched only by his determination.

Last December, while most MPs and journalists were distracted by the matter of exiting the EU, Mr Lamb tried to smuggle a cannabis legalisation bill through the Commons. Despite cross-party support, including from nine Conservatives, the bill failed by 14 votes. Conservative MP Steve Double deserves credit for leading the opposition.

Two months later, in February, Mr Lamb wrote an article about cannabis legalisation for liberal website 1828, which gave it the terribly original title ‘The war on drugs has failed – it’s time to pursue legalisation’. I have copied it below with my comments added in italics.

There is a great irony in the government’s continued support for drug prohibition. It is founded on the claim that people must be protected from harm, yet the effect of their approach is precisely the opposite. This isn’t ironic, and there is, in any case, no ‘prohibition’. 

Indeed, the government itself, and many others around the world, stands accused of directly putting children and young people at great risk of harm. Universal Credit might put people at risk of harm, but smoking cannabis is a choice. Those who buy it and smoke it put themselves at risk of harm. 

So, my support for reform is based on a harm reduction approach. Ah, ‘harm reduction’, the most slippery and dishonest euphemism of the legalisation lexicon. As we shall see, the basis of his support is rather less noble. 

As a liberal, I also make the case for an individual’s freedom to make their own decisions about what they want to do, provided it does not harm others. Cannabis ‘does not harm others’? Try telling that to the victims listed on this site. 

But you don’t have to be convinced by that principle. Just consider the impact of our current approach, and you will conclude that it is reckless and irresponsible. It is indeed ‘reckless and irresponsible’ to decriminalise cannabis in all but name, as the Conservative government of Ted Heath did in 1971.

First, drugs are everywhere. One of the few true statements in this piece.

The so-called war on drugs has failed miserably. Why ‘so-called’? Perhaps this cautious phrase is a sign that Mr Lamb isn’t quite as sure of the existence of this ‘war’ as he was at the beginning of the article.

Opponents of reform will often point to teenagers whose lives have been ruined, for example, by smoking potent strains of skunk. Some might, but I don’t. Most of the cases I cite mention only cannabis. In addition, like a lot of slang terms, ‘skunk’ has fallen out of use in the last two years or so. 

Yet this is happening here and now with cannabis prohibited. It’s happening because supply is in the hands of criminal networks. It’s happening because teenagers have no idea what they are buying and whether it is contaminated. Note the contradiction: hapless young people, Mr Lamb claims, are smoking cannabis that contains a large amount of THC, aka ‘skunk’, but these same young people also ‘have no idea what they are buying’. In other words, they don’t know what they’re smoking, but Mr Lamb does. Maybe in the cases of suicide and psychopathic violence I cite the cannabis was strong, maybe it wasn’t. In any case, what Mr Lamb implies is that certain strains of cannabis are safe, and that in the Brave New World of legalisation these are the only strains teenagers would buy. (By the way, how old are these teenagers? Mr Lamb wisely does not say what he thinks the legal minimum age would be, but it appears he means 18, as it is for cigarettes and alcohol. As with cigarettes and alcohol, though, this would be based on practicality rather than any objective scientific evidence, for such evidence suggests that cannabis can do a great deal of harm to the mind of an 18-year-old.)

So, leaving the supply of cannabis in the hands of criminals is stupid and dangerous. Leaving? I thought we were at ‘war’ with these criminals. It does nothing to protect young people from harm, but it does put them at risk of harm. To be at risk of harm they must choose to buy and smoke cannabis.

Second, with every additional gram of cannabis sold, more money goes to criminals – individuals who certainly won’t pay tax on their earnings. How ridiculous is that? It’s not ‘ridiculous’ at all, but predictable and logical, as it is for large corporations, such as Altria and Imperial Brands, to legally evade as much tax as they can. What he means, as we shall presently see, is that it’s a terrible shame the government can’t get its hands on that revenue.

During the coalition, the Liberal Democrats commissioned the Treasury to undertake an analysis of the potential tax revenues which would flow into government coffers if cannabis were legal and regulated. Up to £1bn a year was the answer. Instead of enriching organised crime, this money could do good – extra funding for the NHS, social care, education or the police, for example. The positive language strongly suggests Mr Lamb hopes and expects people to continue smoking cannabis, which contradicts a claim he makes later, and does not sit well with his support for ‘harm reduction’. Moreover, would £1bn compensate for even just one young man losing his mind from smoking cannabis? 

But there are other awful consequences of prohibition. Given just how profitable the drugs trade is for organised crime, it is important to defend your market. They can’t issue a writ in the high court if they are faced by a competitive threat. So they depend on the use of extreme violence. And this impacts most heavily on the most deprived communities, with children and young people sucked into the drugs trade, putting them at enormous risk.

Just recently there was a news report of unscrupulous adults encouraging vulnerable children to take knives into school in order to get them excluded so they could then be exploited. Week after week we get horror stories of “county lines” – the despicable practice of using children to traffick [sic] drugs into rural areas. This is child exploitation of the worst sort when children are living in fear of drug masters, petrified of breaking rank for fear of violence or something even worse.

Too often the exploited children are treated as culpable, yet they are victims of a disgusting trade facilitated by government policy. When will we start to recognise the link between the illegal drugs trade and youth violence? When will we start to understand that there is a better way of confronting these horrors? See my post Does knife crime have anything to do with drugs markets? for evidence that very little, if any, violent crime is the result of drug dealers fighting to control a market. Note also that Mr Lamb offers no evidence that legalisation would eliminate these illicit markets, nor say whether putting the trade in the hands of Altria and Imperial Brands would make it any less ‘disgusting’. 

And then there is the fact that we still prosecute more than 10,000 people every year for possession of cannabis, let alone other drugs. This is risible. If we take a conservative estimate of one million regular cannabis smokers in Britain, then it is the case, by Mr Lamb’s own figure, that 1% are prosecuted. How many of these go to prison? He doesn’t say, possibly because he knows the answer is zero. He also doesn’t mention that more than 30,000 smokers are let off every year with a meaningless ‘cannabis warning’.

A caution is enough to damage your career prospects – for doing something that half the cabinet have probably done at some point in their lives. I’d happily support the arrest and prosecution of these cabinet members. The hypocrisy beggars belief If they supported the punishment of cannabis possession by day and smoked cannabis by night, they would be hypocrites. Otherwise, they are not. – indeed, the most dangerous drug of all, in terms of harm to oneself and others, alcohol A ridiculous claim based on no objective evidence whatever., is consumed in vast quantities in our national parliament. And yet the government and the Labour party continue to support the criminalisation of fellow citizens for using cannabis, which is less dangerous. People who choose to break the law ‘criminalise’ themselves, if they are arrested and prosecuted, which they rarely are.

I am instinctively hostile to drugs, both legal and illegal, because I fear the dangers of consuming any drug in significant quantities. This contradicts his earlier enthusiasm for the estimated £1bn in tax revenue that legalisation could bring, which is dependent on the drug being bought and smoked in ‘significant quantities’. But I know that the present approach is a catastrophic failure. It is indeed, but he doesn’t know, or won’t admit, that that ‘approach’ is, in fact, decriminalisation, not ‘prohibition’. I know that the best way to protect young people from harm is to, first of all, legalise and regulate cannabis. Just as ‘regulated’ cigarettes cause cancer, so ‘regulated’ cannabis can cause mental illness. Let’s follow the rational approach (who says it’s ‘rational’?) of the Liberal government in Canada, and let’s have an informed discussion about how best to reduce the harm caused by other drugs.

Sooner or later, the people of this country will recognise the folly of the Conservative government’s approach, which is driven by fear-based, rather than evidence-based, policymaking [sic]. They will recognise that the stubborn refusal of those who govern us to look at the evidence is endangering our nation’s young people. It is shameful. Mr Lamb is interested only in evidence that appears to support his position. I have posted him a hard copy of Attacker Smoked Cannabis, which he has not read, nor acknowledged receipt of. He also refuses to answer any of my questions on Twitter. People, though, are indeed recognising the folly of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat policy of de facto decriminalisation. The cannabis zeitgeist is shifting, but Mr Lamb will not shift with it.

Charlatan or fool. You decide.